Comité Nacional por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos

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The Case of the Cuban Five: The Struggle Continues

by Telma Rodríguez Medina
Dec. 26, 2008
Reprinted from ACN

The increase of world support for the release of the Five Cuban anti- terrorism fighters unjustly incarcerated in the United States was corroborated on December 24 during the session of the Cuban Parliament's Commission for International Relations.

The Commission's secretary, Yenielis Regüeiferos, highlighted that, in 2008, politicians, governments, parliamentarians, human rights entities and trade unions made new appeals for the immediate release of The Five.

She pointed out that petitions in this regard were adopted by legislators from Guinea Bissau, Hungary, Namibia, the Assembly of the Turkish People, and at the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

She recalled that, in July, a Solidarity-with-Cuba Latin American and Caribbean meeting and in favor of the release from prison of The Five was held in Panama, with the participation of legislators from 17 countries.

Also expressing their solidarity with this case were the parliaments from Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Mexico and Panama, as well as the Russian Legislative Assembly.

The president of the Commission, Ramón Pez Ferro, added that all international forums are good opportunities to denounce the injustice committed against Antonio Guerrero, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, as has been done during the meetings of the Inter-parliamentary Union.

Recently, Rene sent a message of gratitude, in which he states, on behalf of his companions, that they feel humble in view of the international sensitivity and solidarity for their case. He thanked friends from around the world for their support and said that they will never stop being worthy of that solidarity.

"You have become a human tide that, from all corners of the world, is asking for justice to be done in our case, demanding it in public squares, trade unions, social organizations, parliaments, and governmental headquarters," he said.

He pointed out that 2008 has been particularly hard, marked by the latest of all the legal atrocities in their case and by other irreparable losses but, nevertheless, they keep on being optimistic.

On June 4, three judges from Atlanta's Court of Appeals ratified the guilt of The Five, and returned to the same court in Miami the cases of Ramón (life imprisonment plus 18 years), Fernando (19 years) and Antonio (life imprisonment plus 10 years) to be re-sentenced. The decision reaffirmed the sentences against René (15 years) and Gerardo (two life imprisonments plus 15 years). At present, the biased trial against The Five is in the process of appeal.

On December 24, Richard Klugh, one of the defense lawyers of The Five, stated in Washington that they will appeal to the Supreme Court before January 30, 2009.

Klugh pointed out that they will request a revision of all of the sentences, in view of the misconduct of the district attorney's office, the inappropriate and discriminatory selection of the jury, and the refusal of the 11th Circuit of Atlanta's Court of Appeals to grant a change of venue for the trial, according to a report by PL news agency.

In an interview with Gloria La Riva, from the National Free the Five Committee, Klugh said that another mistake was the fact that rules were changed in the middle of the legal process, and not according to what we believe the country's law requires, added the US lawyer.

Klugh highlighted that they have the assistance of Thomas Goldstein, a lawyer with a vast experience in cases taken to the Supreme Court and added that the US government will have two or three months after January 30 to give an answer in a court of law.

The actions carried out by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five (USA) in 2008 included the huge billboards placed in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the presentation of 102,000 signatures demanding freedom for the Five and the civil disobedience action at the White House, and many public forums throughout the United States.

For its part, the International Free the Five Committee -the main objective of which, like that of the National Committee, is to raise awareness about the case of the Cuban Five and the issue of family visits - has also worked tirelessly within the US to make the case known to those who're still unaware through its representative in that nation, Alicia Jrapko.

Among the actions carried out by the members of this Committee in the US in 2008 are:

• A Web page especially dedicated to the relatives of The Five was designed and put on line.

• Twelve US personalities met with the International Commission for the Right to Family Visits, along with more than 160 renowned figures from 27 nations.

• Letters were sent to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the State Department, the Internal Security Department, and to all the members of the US Congress and Senate, on behalf of the aforementioned International Commission.

• A total of 15,000 postcards in English and Spanish were printed and distributed, addressed to the US State Secretariat. Thousands of postcards were sent to Condoleezza Rice from the most diverse US cities demanding visas so that Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez can visit their husbands in prison.

• The first annual event for International Women's Day was held in the City of Richmond, California, where it was denounced US government's human rights violations for denying entry visas to Olga and Adriana.

• They participated in the 3rd Latino Congress, held in Los Angeles, California.

• They toured, schools and universities in California with Canadian author Arnold August.

• They took part in the 19th Pastors for Peace Caravan, which made it possible to bring the case of The Five to cities in Canada and the United States.

• They organized the first public concert in favor of The Five in the US city of New York, in which renowned singers Danny Rivera, from Puerto Rico, and Victor Victor, from the Dominican Republic -among other artists, participated.

• Some 5,000 information brochures were published in English and Spanish, and 1,000 commemorative pins were made.

• On September 12, they published an ad on New York's La Prensa newspaper.

• As part of a trade union meeting in Tijuana, Mexico, they organized a workshop on the case of The Five, attended by Fernando's mother, Magali Llort.

On Oct 17 Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon, during the Round Table aired by Cuban radio and television, analyzed the course of the appeal process of the case, and stressed the need to prevent the closing of the case of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters by the US Supreme Court.

"We will avoid the closing of the case with arguments, rallies, concerts and the mobilization of the people in Cuba and the United States and in many other places around the world".

An extremely difficult year for the struggle in support of the release of the Five - in US jails since September 12, 1998, for trying to prevent terrorist actions against the Cuban people and even against the people of the United States - is about to end.

We still don't know if US president elect Barack Obama will change his country's unjust policy toward Cuba, which The Five are part of. But what we do know with absolute certainty is that their release will be obtained through international solidarity.


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